In today’s fast paced lifestyle it’s sometimes difficult to find time to prioritise yourself, and then it’s even harder not to wonder what the consequences will be for not taking action now.
So, here’s are our Top 10 Tips to help you stay younger for longer and avoid growing older too ungracefully.
1. Resistance Training
Resistance Training does so much more for your mind and body than just toning or strengthening your muscles.
Although, maintaining a healthy muscle mass is extremely important because from the age of 40 we start to lose around 1% muscle mass EACH YEAR!
This then lowers our metabolism and leads to weight gain and health related issues.
And you don’t need to be over 40 to worry about losing muscle.
Inactivity will do just the same, so you gotta ‘use it or you lose it!’
Resistance training includes free weights, plate and pin loaded machines, kettlebells and bodyweight exercises.
And it doesn’t have to mean lifting huge cast iron weights until you can’t do anymore either.
Progressively getting stronger over time is the key here in a manageable, sustainable way, whilst still gaining all the associated benefits.
Aside from maintaining or improving your muscle mass, resistance training releases “feel good” hormones, lowers stress levels and helps you sleep better at night.
People who perform a combination of strength and cardio based exercise also tend to have an improved immune system, digestive function, better blood pressure and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
This impressive list also contains: a lower risk for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, certain cancers and better mobility, flexibility and balance.
There are many ways to structure a programme based on your goals, but typically lifting weights (even your body weight) two to three times a week will provide great results for both mind and body.
To get the best results (especially for injuries, poor mobility and beginners) we recommend that you get a postural assessment and a personalised programme designed by an experienced Personal Trainer.
It’s very easy to avoid resistance training because the thought of it can feel intimidating until you know what you are doing.
The cardio machines are far easier to work and well, ‘at least I am doing something’ I hear you cry.
But cardio just doesn’t provide the benefits your body needs like regular resistance training does.
You can easily start with basic, non intimidating, “easy to use” equipment and progress from there.
2. Yoga / Pilates
Typically we tend to neglect stretching and mobility exercises in our 20’s and 30’s and then we start to feel the disadvantages that come with age.
Yoga is fantastic for improving your mind-body connection and there are many different styles that provide different benefits.
Typically Yoga will improve your flexibility and mobility helping improve your posture and reduce the risk of injury.
Most people find stretching boring even though they understand it’s importance so this is where a regular Yoga class can come in very handy!
Pilates can complement a strength training programme by developing whole-body strength and flexibility, to help reduce the risk of injury.
A lot of gym routines tend to focus on our big muscles but miss out on the small stabilisers and deeper core muscles, leading to muscular imbalances, aches, pains and injuries.
3. Mobility Exercises
Now, Yoga and Pilates classes are not for everyone, (which is absolutely fine) so if you don’t fancy popping along to a regular class, or struggle to find the time to commit to an hour or so then you can do your own mobility routines as and when it suits you.
As well as moving your body in an assortment of creative ways to get you moving better, you can also perform self massage techniques with some tools of your choice.
This may be a simple tennis ball, lacrosse ball, foam roller, piece of pipe or something more exotic looking like a Thera-Cane.
Whatever works for you, there are four main times to perform mobility exercises, so let’s go through each one:
A/ Whenever you Like
Yep you got it, it’s as simple as that. If you’re feeling stiff, tight, achy or lethargic then you can self massage, stretch and mobilise the affected areas.
B/ Prevention and Maintenance
If you know that it’s only a matter of time before your body will feel like it’s suffering from premature Rigor Mortis then you may want get into a regular routine or exercises, to prevent it setting in in the first place.
This may be a series of exercises at the crack of dawn, or even an evening thing after work if you can’t bear setting your alarm that early before work. Whatever works for you!
C/ Pre Exercise
Performing mobility drills before you lift weights can mean the difference between Life or Death! Not really just kidding, but it’s still really important for most people over the age of 30-40.
If your groin, quads, hip flexors, chest or lats (just a few common examples) are over tight then they will kind of “switch off” the amount of effort that other important muscles like your glutes, feet, core and shoulder stabilisers contribute to the way you move during exercise.
These imbalances can lead to excessive aches and pains in your muscles and joints and can cause injuries.
A lot of the time these can be prevented with a little pre exercise TLC.
It’s kind of like a mini workout before the main workout, but that’s all it should be, just a mini workout.
It shouldn’t take over the whole workout because this pre workout mobility will loosen the tight areas but won’t create long term changes.
For that you need to strengthen the weak muscles to create balance.
D/ Post Exercise
We all know we should stretch after a good workout but most of us really can’t be bothered, especially when tired and feeling like you just want to crash on the sofa.
But a nice little warm down with a few stretches and mobility exercises at the end can mean the difference between walking like John Wayne with a bad attitude and your normal graceful strut.
If you really don’t have time then try getting a few stretches in before you go to bed and you will thank yourself for it the next day!
4. Cardio Exercise
Just 30 minutes of exercise per day could help you offset osteoporosis, hold on to some muscle mass, maintain your natural range of motion, avoid back aches and pains, lower your risk of heart problems and maintain a healthier sex life.
There are two main types of cardio activity for becoming fitter and healthier so let’s take a look at each one:
LISS stands for Low Intensity Steady State.
A slow walk won’t cut it here as you have to be exercising hard enough to feel slightly breathless but still be able to comfortably hold a conversation.
This type of cardio get’s your heart rate up without putting too much strain on you so can be done on a daily basis.
It burns fat as it’s dominant fuel source (which isn’t always better) and keeps your body moving to a minimum standard.
You will generally feel better in yourself for doing some of this type of cardio.
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.
This is where you increase the intensity of the exercise so that your muscles are working much harder, your breathing rate increases to try to cope with the extra demand and your body will then tap into your anaerobic system.
The amount of intensity you put in here is different for everyone so an interval for one person may be a fast walk where as another it could be an all out sprint.
HIIT training releases higher amounts of “feel good” and “fat burning” hormones than LISS cardio, as well as numerous other benefits, such as muscle mass and bodyweight strength improvements.
A lot of the time sporting activities combine both types of cardio.
A footballer for example will do a fast walk or slow jog to move into position around the pitch and then sprint to get the ball or move up or down the pitch under pressure.
You can combine these yourself by going for a walk and mixing in some intervals of 10-30 seconds to increase the energy used, and as a result the physical and hormonal benefits received.
Typically HIIT training will be done 2-3 times per week only to enable enough recovery between sessions.
5. A Balanced Diet
Now we could get very complex with this one and go into all the various diets, calorie counting apps and fasting theories, but diet is so specific that we are going keep this one really simple.
Here’s one optional rule that you can use, which works particularly well for people who want to be healthy and are exercising regularly:
Eat “around” 40% carbs, 30% fats, and 30% proteins.
That should ensure you have enough energy for the demands of the day, take in all the building blocks for muscular repair after exercise, and supply the fats needed for optimal hormone, hair and skin health.
Of course, in order to work out the percentage for each macronutrient, you need to know what your daily calorie target is, which depends on your muscle mass, daily energy expenditure and your specific goals.
There are many free apps and websites that can work this out for you.
Our FIT3D Body Scanner can also provide your BMR (basal metabolic rate) to help you work out your baseline calories before exercise and activity.
Everyone is different and the macro’s of proteins, carbs and fats will vary from person to person so we recommend that you speak to a Personal Trainer or Nutritionist, that is qualified and experienced to recommend advice for people who are exercising.
If you are doing lot’s of regular, intense exercise, then you may want a higher carbohydrate % and if you want or need to do less exercise due to injury or illness, then you may want to go with lower carbs and higher fats.
If you believe you may have dietary deficiencies, then you will need to consult your doctor, a nutritionist or both.
Life is busy and full of distractions that can easily take your mind off what’s really important (You).
If your health and fitness are important to you, then it’s important that you to find a way (or multiple ways) to keep you focused and accountable.
Although, scales and guesswork are the least effective method of constructive accountability.
Whether you are trying to achieve a weight loss goal, or just maintain a healthier body and lifestyle, you need to have a score board to know how you are doing because without one you will have no traffic light system to stop you getting out of control.
Generally, to maintain a healthy shape you need to have a conscious or unconscious buffer zone, a bit like the thermostat on your houses central heating system.
It turns on when the house gets too cold and turns off when it gets too warm.
The same goes for your weight, shape, energy or bodies feedback with aches and pains.
If you put on too much weight, go up a belt buckle or dress size or struggle to walk up the stairs without getting out of breath, then your internal thermostat should kick in and do something about it.
If it doesn’t kick in then you either don’t have a score board for your thermostat, you’re not motivated enough (usually in enough pain) or you’re talking to yourself too much and just not taking action…
Like Nike says – Just do it!
At Phoenix Gym we find that the FIT3D Body Scanner provides the perfect feedback to keep score because it gives you full body measurements, body composition comparisons and shows you visually where you are right now in a perfect 3D model.
It also compares you on graphs and charts for your age, height and weight.
Phoenix members say that the FIT3D provides 100% accountability to get that internal thermostat of yours finally kicking in, making you actually do the things you know you need to do!
7. Stay Hydrated
It’s an interesting fact that almost any ailment in the body is at least slightly alleviated by drinking more water!
A hydrated body is optimal and natural for our health, helping to flush out toxins, reduce inflammation, lubricate joints, support our metabolisms, improve energy, digestion and mental performance.
Often you’ll get a noticeable increase in health and vitality just from upping your water intake alone.
It’s absolutely essential to stay hydrated if you want long and lasting health.
Don’t like the taste? Then you will have to get over it or find a way to make it more enjoyable!
Water is our life source, whether you like it or not.
Drinking more water can also help with weight management because some of the signals that your body gives you for hunger are similar to thirst.
This may mean that if you first settle your craving for water, then you could find that you don’t eat as much, rather than trying to stop a never ending hunger that doesn’t exist.
Whilst alcohol and caffeine can certainly be enjoyed in moderation, tea and coffee provide a source of water and arguably, have significant health benefits, at a low rate of consumption.
Red wine can help heart health and coffee beans are believed to lower dementia risk, for example.
It goes without saying though, that over consumption of either is going to have negative consequences.
For example, as you get older, your liver might struggle to clean your blood of alcohol with the same efficiency of its more youthful days.
Where as too much caffeine can prevent regular sleep patterns leading to higher levels or cortisol, hunger and lower energy levels.
This can lead can then lead to caffeine or alcahol dependency.
So, don’t stop drinking, but do drink with careful moderation.
Mental wellbeing is just as important (if not more) as physical wellbeing, although really they are one and the same thing.
You just use different strategies to keep them in psychological shape for overall health.
Your mental health effects everything from your blood pressure to hormones and resting heart rate.
Chronic stress leads to inflammation, which then effects your joints, muscles and ability to recover from physical activity.
When your body is in a fight or flight state for prolonged periods of time then it can also lower your immune system, which in turn lowers for your mood, motivation or physical health.
Regular exercise can help to alleviate a lot of these symptoms but having mental strategies also will help further.
A case could really be made for dancing, martial arts and other disciplines and activities like playing instruments.
No training plan or diet is going to be completely effective if you are in a bad place mentally and emotionally.
A 2015 study found that even very short, regular meditation practices can be an effective strategy for counteracting the cognitive decline associated with ageing!
Just five minutes of sitting or lying, whilst trying to calm your mind will help.
Your stress levels will drop, your brain will take a mental break and you’ll come out the other side calmer, feel more robust and ready to deal with daily challenges.
Quite often, your ability to make decisions improves also.
We are social creatures and whether extroverted or introverted, investing time and effort into our close social ties is crucial to our ongoing mental health.
It’s easy to lose track of old friends as we hit mid life, especially with the time pressures of family and work are the main priorities.
But there’s good evidence that our social ties are among the biggest determinant of our long term health.
In fact, a Harvard Study found that the quality of our close relationships, whether community, social or romantic were often a greater predictor of our health in our older years than certain genetic and life-style factors that would commonly be thought of as the greatest predictors of health.
The study also found that social support helped protect both body and brain, to offset cognitive decline in later years.
Having goals to work towards can do you the world of good because they focus the mind and keeps life interesting.
You needn’t be super ambitious either, even striving towards a small goal will give you motivation and eventually something to appreciate once achieved.
This releases dopamine, serotonin and other feel good hormones as well as improve your self esteem.
Some people don’t like setting goals due to not achieving them in the past, but don’t let your past experiences hinder the current and future wellbeing.
If this is you then just remember that “the past does not have to equal the future”.
Your goals can be for your work or career, your home, travel and holidays, relationships, family, pets or your own personal development.
Whatever they are for, the point is to work towards their attainment and feel good about their accomplishment, regardless of how small or insignificant they may seem.
The little things can actually be the big things in life.
Where to Start?
Start now by picking just one point from the above list and work it into your daily routine.
Once you have ticked that one off, then work on another at your own pace.
Just image, if you worked on each one for a month, building things into your lifestyle, then by the end of just 10 months you should be happier, healthier and more confident.
So What Now?
If you’re looking to improve your health, fitness, body image or confidence then our members say that Phoenix Gym provides the perfect alternative to cold, clinical, impersonal gyms where you feel alone.
This helps to more easily build your exercise habit’s into your lifestyle.
Phoenix has the largest range of equipment in Norwich, to suit all ages and abilities, along with multiple stations of all the main equipment, so that you can get the best tailored programme done in the shortest amount of time.
Phoenix has Norwich’s most experienced team of Personal Trainers to help you not only get started, but most importantly progress your exercise programmes, help with tailored dietary advice and provide feedback on your FIT3D scan results.
All new members receive one free personal training session, to help design you a personalised programme, plus free guest passes for you to train with friends if you want to.
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See you soon and “Raise Your Game!”